Forget a Yard Physicist. I Need a Yard Scientist.

With the dog sickness and the draft completing, I forgot to tell you all the strangest thing. I had visitors yesterday. My front yard neighbors. The dog was out in the yard, pooping, of course and the orange cat was lounging on the front porch and over came the two mocking birds that live in the front yard. One sat on the porch railing right by the cat and tweeted angrily at the cat and then the other came up to the door, where I was standing, and tweeted at me.

I know they’re just birds and that one shouldn’t anthropomorphize too much.

But I swear, it was as if they’d come to the door to complain about the cat. Who, I will note, they also weren’t that afraid of, since one was on the ground not 4 feet from him and the other was hectoring him from the railing right above him.

And this blows my mind. I mean, hell, maybe they weren’t complaining. I don’t know. But I am a mammal. A big old clumsy ape. They are tiny birds. They have bodies that do things mine never will. I do things they never will. And yet, they, who are supposedly the bigger idiots, stopped by to tell me something about the cat. A complaint might be reading too much into it. But definitely they were saying “we have an opinion about this animal right here and we want you to know it.”

Just at the level of that, of me trying to not read anything into what their opinion of the cat might be (though I think we have to guess, considering he’s the one who brought a bird into the house, that it’s not good), we have two birds working together. Two birds who acted with enough forethought to watch for me to show up at the front door so that they could address an ongoing concern. And two birds who are somehow able to understand that this animal (me) has an effect on the behavior of that animal (the cat) and I might influence the cat in some fashion.

That seems like a lot for a bird to put together. And yet, I don’t know how else to explain it.


13 thoughts on “Forget a Yard Physicist. I Need a Yard Scientist.

  1. Mockingbirds are aggressive little turds, full of sass. They do work in packs to drive off intruders from their turf. Not so sure about the hierarchy part — “if we get her to intercede, the cat will be history.” Instead, sounds like they thought you were also part of their intruder problem but you were too big to peck and beat with their wings, so they just decided to give you a good talking to.

  2. I think you might be reading a bit too far into it, BUT I regularly read various studies indicating that some animal or another is smarter than we’d originally thought yet I don’t recall ever reading one that reached the opposite conclusion, so who knows?

  3. I have witnessed several instances of mockingbirds attacking crows lately, which are so much bigger than them that it looks bizarre. They are fearless little peckers. (Heh.) It’s like watching Gulliver get tied down by the Lilliputians, only slightly more depressing.

  4. On their Wikipedia page, there’s a picture of a mockingbird CHASING A HAWK. I repeat–a mockingbird chasing a hawk. Honestly, if you’re that hawk, you probably have to move after that, right? Just pack your bags and find a new neighborhood.

    I feel like showing that picture to the orange cat and asking him if he feels luckier than a motherfucking hawk.

    Also, I feel like the title of this post and the ensuing lack of controversy proves I have no physicists reading Tiny Cat Pants or someone would have pointed out that physicists are scientists.

    Or I do have physicists reading, but they don’t have a good answer for the “why does the dirt you just took out of a hole not fill the hole upon refilling?” so they’re remaining quiet.

  5. Physicists aren’t scientists. They are philosophers with telescopes (and a wicked Ultimate team).

  6. When I was a kid, our cat got a baby bird one summer. For the rest of the summer all of the birds in the neighborhood would buzz the cat every time she went outside. Didn’t take long before the cat didn’t really want to go out. Funny thing was, after the winter, when the birds came back they continued to buzz the cat! Just for a little bit; I guess to remind her that they remembered.

  7. But I swear, it was as if they’d come to the door to complain about the cat.

    They probably did. Our mockingbirds dive bomb dogs, cats, people, anyone and anything that annoys them.

  8. I love mockingbirds, and crows, and they are both pretty freaking smart. When they have chicks or eggs, mockingbirds will definitely dial it up where intruders are concerned, but I think they were just splitting up duties. “You take that damn cat and I’ll go after that damn human.”

  9. I’ve been a big fan of the corvids for a long time, ever since a crown befriended my mom when I was a kid and would walk around the neighborhood with her.

    But I had NO IDEA about mockingbirds until I moved here and I have grown to feel like the couple in my front yard are neighbors of a sort. I mean, they live in the front yard. They are my neighbors.

Comments are closed.